Telemedicine Adoption Rates Up From Last Year

The rate of telemedicine adoption among health care providers increased by about three percentage points between 2014 and 2015, according to a new HIMSS Analytics study, FierceHealthIT reports (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

Study Details

The study was based on data from the HIMSS Analytics Database and a survey of health IT professionals (HIMSS Analytics study, September 2015).

The survey yielded about 270 responses from:

  • Ambulatory physicians;
  • C-suite executives;
  • Clinicians;
  • Department heads; and
  • IT professionals.

Study Findings

According to the study, telemedicine adoption rates increased from 54.5% in 2014 to 57.7% in 2015.

Brendan FitzGerald, research director at HIMSS Analytics, said telemedicine was most commonly used among respondents as a way to fill gaps in care.

He said, "There was a somewhat sizeable uptick in organizations wanting the ability to offer care services that they don't necessarily have, such as being able to offer specialty services."

Meanwhile, the most popular telemedicine functionality was two-way video conferencing. About 70% of respondents said they currently use such a system.

The study also found that health care organizations increasingly are using several of the four telemedicine delivery models:

  • Concierge services;
  • "Hub-and-spoke" delivery;
  • Patient portals; and
  • Remote patient monitoring.

According to the survey, 23% of respondents said they use two specific models. Just 3% said they use all four.

About 57% of respondents said they use the "hub-and-spoke" telemedicine model, making it the most widely used among providers. Under such a model, primary organizations are situated in the center and have "spokes" reaching out to smaller entities, most often through audio and visual technology.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald said that the number of telemedicine vendors has increased from 69 last year to 85 in 2015 (FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

The study also found that while telemedicine adoption is increasing, appropriately defining the term remains a challenge to the industry (HIMSS Analytics study, September 2015).

For example, telemedicine can refer to a broad swatch of services, such as video conferencing or email.

FitzGerald said that telemedicine is "very broad in its interpretation, but I think as the market matures, this will become more focused and narrow" (FierceHealthIT, 9/11).

Source: iHealthBeat, Friday, September 11, 2015

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